Kinds Of Suffering In King Lear High Storrs Essay

1149 words - 5 pages

‘There are many kinds of suffering in King Lear, and little consolation.’ To what extent do you agree?
It is clear to see that there are many examples of suffering in King Lear, yet these do not come in various ‘kinds’. Consolation is scattered throughout the play and it is easy to argue that there is more than a ‘little’ of it. Although some may argue that the suffering comes in different forms, in King Lear it is only presented in two ways: as physical and emotional. The play definitely does not end well yet it is clear to see a spark of consolation within the majority of the characters to engage catharsis within the audience. With this in mind it is clear to see the many ways Shakespeare presents the recurring suffering and consolation in order to engage the viewers.
The story of King Lear does not only appear to be about Shakespeare’s life but it also closely parallel’s that of King James I. It was a method to try to help teach the King without being very abrupt about it. Hardly surprising, the tragedy within the play is to show the anger of God as Lear removes himself from the position, as king, in which he was set out to be. This disrupts the Great Chain of being and is clear to emulate the possibility that James’ England could fall under the same tragic fate if he does not give his kingdom away correctly. This chaos caused by the King giving up his power leads to chaos within the Great Chain of being, which ultimately leads to a ton of psychological suffering. We see this type of suffering within the characters: Lear, as he is thrown out by his daughters and is driven mad – ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child’; Kent, as he is an Earl yet he is thrown into the stocks and forced to create a persona in order to serve Lear; Edgar, as he flees his father for something he hasn’t done and becomes the character of Mad Tom; Gloucester, as he sees the truth that he was betrayed by his illegitimate son; and Cordelia, as she is cast out and banished because of Lear’s hubris. Psychological suffering can be used to justify many of the hardships that the characters undergo within the play. The other type of suffering within King Lear is physical, Lear bears the pain of the storm, Gloucester loses his eyes and many of the characters die. From this it is clear to see that there are only two types of suffering in Lear, yet this play is not tragic because of it suffering, it is tragic because of the vast amount of consolation that we and the characters are given only for it to be followed by death. We see consolation in Lear and Cordelia as they are reunited and Cordelia can tell him she loves him, ‘No cause, no cause’ she replies to him as he says she has every cause to hate him. This brief consolation is followed by the deaths of Cordelia and Lear. Gloucester is reunited with Edmund and he is able to apologise to him, showing comfort within his character. Kent has consolation as he never leaves the King’s side, although his...

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